Kevin Hart is stepping down from hosting the Oscars amid controversy concerning years-old tweets in which he made homophobic and transphobic comments. "I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past", Hart tweeted.
Update: Hart posted the following video and accompanying text to Instagram in response to today's flurry of scrutiny.
On Thursday (Friday NZ time), Hart wrote on Instagram that critics should "stop being negative" after years-old tweets surfaced in which he used homophobic slurs.
"I am so happy to say that the day has finally come for me to host the Oscars", Hart continued.
"I chose to pass on the apology", Hart said. In 2011, Oscars producer Brett Ratner stepped down after making controversial, homophobic comments, while that year's host, Eddie Murphy, made a decision to step back as well. "And if he doesn't, I don't think we should hold him accountable, I think we should just remember and forgive him".
"Stop searching for reasons to be angry", Hart wrote in his Instagram, along with a grainy video of him shirtless expressing the same sentiments.
It's not the first time an Oscars host has been forced to answer for anti-gay remarks. "I am evolving and want to continue to do so". But they had already been screen-captured and been shared virally online. What hasn't happened is an apology - not even your typical statement of regret and an assurance of "that was me then, and I'm a different person now".
GLAAD, the advocacy group for LGBTQ rights, had said Thursday that it reached out to Oscars broadcaster ABC, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and Hart's management to "discuss Kevin's anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and record". "We feed internet trolls and we reward them". If you don't believe that people change, grow, evolve as they get older. 'Like I tweeted a few weeks ago, Hollywood still has a real problem with gay men.
With the entertainment industry at the fore of societal change amongst the #MeToo era, having an Academy Awards host who not only has a past riddled with latent homophobia, but refuses to acknowledge or apologise for it, is a backwards step.